Radford University recently welcomed hundreds of young men to campus for the 78th session of the American Legion Boys State of Virginia.
The weeklong leadership program is offered to rising high school seniors who are sponsored by various American Legion posts and are selected based on academic achievement, leadership ability, civic engagement, and citizenship.
This is the eighth year Radford University has hosted Boys State on campus. The longstanding partnership acquaints participants with the university’s modern facilities, services and amenities, its in-demand academic programs, and its engaging faculty, staff and students.
Boys State began on campus with an opening ceremony that included a welcome from Radford University interim President Carolyn Ringer Lepre and Radford Mayor David Horton.
“Many of Virginia’s — and our country’s — leaders have participated in Boys State, a program that teaches the value of civic duty and public service,” Lepre said. “You will have opportunities to focus on your individual interests, build new friendships, and meet with Virginia government business leaders.”
The interim president also touted the benefits of attending Boys State on the Radford University campus.
“You will experience Radford University this week. You will get to see our beautiful modern campus with its many amenities, services, and academic offerings,” Lepre said. “Cyberdefense, healthcare, criminal justice, political science, history, finance and accounting, and the physical sciences are just a few of Radford’s high-demand, valuable programs of study you can explore.”
Horton reminded the young men that they are “the leaders of tomorrow” and encouraged them to think about how they will endeavor to help others accomplish their goals, how they will build a future that is not politically divided, and how they will help their neighbors and friends live a better life.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam spoke virtually to the Boys State gathering during the week about the challenges of the past year and offered sincere wishes for them going forward into their senior years of high school and beyond.
“There are so many ways you can make a difference in your community, from volunteering to running for office,” Northam said. “And if there’s one thing that this past year has demonstrated, it is the importance of acting responsibly, working together, and focusing on unity, not devices.”
The governor encouraged the young men, who represent “our next generation of leaders,” he said, “to work together and listen to the valuable perspective of others. It’s vital,” he reminded them, “to have people working in good faith for the greater good.”
Each morning throughout the week, the young men, all dressed in blue shorts and white T-shirts emblazoned with the Boys State seal, gathered for breakfast at 7 a.m. at Dalton Hall, stood on the Heth Hall lawn, and raised the American flag at precisely 8:45 a.m. They attended religious services at 9 a.m. and then split across campus for instructional sessions starting at 9:40.
In those sessions, participants learned from leaders from across the commonwealth about the political process through a simulation of Virginia government. They participated in mock legislative sessions and held elections, court proceedings, and other hands-on activities based on their respective interests, such as band, chorus, athletics, and journalism.
The young men attended lectures with top leaders in local and state government, including judges, elected representatives, and law enforcement officials.
The week wrapped up with a College Day in the Student Recreation and Wellness Center. Representatives from numerous higher education institutions, including Radford University, were there to provide information to the young men as they prepare to continue academic pursuits beyond high school.
Later in the day, some of the talented musicians among the Boys State group staged a parade through campus.
The week’s closing date was highlighted by a graduation ceremony that included awards for various areas such as parliamentary procedures, athletics, moot court, best reporter, best citizens, and best city.